THE INITIATIVE

Forces of Art is an international research initiative that examines the ways in which artistic and cultural activities shape their own societies. It was initiated jointly in 2018 by the Prince Claus Fund, Hivos and the European Cultural Foundation (ECF), three foundations that support culture internationally. Their goal was to avoid preconceived notions of ‘success’ and to examine the ways in which art reveals its transformative force for and within societies. The research could not have come at a more timely moment, when arts and culture are facing unprecedented pressure.

Fifteen independent teams of researchers were invited to select as case studies projects that had been supported by the three foundations within the past decade. The researchers were free to choose their own framework and methodology. The resulting studies of 38 cultural initiatives place the diversity of art and culture in context and offer nuanced views on the ways they affect their societies.

The studies have now been compiled in a book titled ‘Forces of Art: Perspectives from a Changing World’, edited by Carin Kuoni, Jordi Baltà Portolés, Nora N. Khan, and Serubiri Moses.

Forces of Art challenges assumptions and suggests new ways of thinking about the values that art and culture have for their societies. Through multiple perspectives, methodologies, and voices, it charts a path to understanding the complex ways in which artistic and cultural practices shape and are profoundly shaped by societies and communities worldwide.

The Prince Claus Fund supports, connects, and celebrates artists and cultural practitioners where culture is under pressure.  The Fund was established on 6 September 1996 as a tribute to His Royal Highness Prince Claus's dedication to culture and development. Since then, the Fund has supported cultural expression primarily in Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. As part of its mission, the Fund stands with those who create, who believe in the transformative power of culture, who advance new ideas and explore new perspectives. The initiatives highlighted in this book demonstrate a wide range of artistic disciplines and vary from one-time grants for specific projects to longer-term collaborations.

Hivos is an international social justice organization seeking new and creative solutions to persistent global problems; solutions created by people taking their lives into their own hands. Together with our partners, we are building a positive counterbalancing force against discrimination, inequality, abuse of power, and the unsustainable use of our planet’s resources. For twenty-five years, Hivos has supported the arts and cultural sector because we believe art has the power to question hegemonic structures in society, create alternative narratives, imagine new realities, and bring about progressive social change. Forces of Art specifically helps in building Hivos' current R.O.O.M. programme, in which we support the creative work of a new generation of artists, musicians, filmmakers and content creators who investigate and challenge the status quo in the societies in which they live.

The European Cultural Foundation (ECF) (founded 1954) is the first foundation with a European mission and vision. ECF believes in the power of culture to achieve a united Europe of diversity, democracy, and freedoms, where solidarity, mutual respect, and collaboration contribute to a shared sense of belonging. ECF’s current work focuses on three programmatic areas: Sharing, Experiencing, and Imagining Europe, which respectively contribute to a European public space, enable cross-border cultural exchanges, and support initiatives that tell the stories of Europe through culture. Since 2020, the Culture of Solidarity Fund started supporting imaginative cultural initiatives, which reinforce solidarity and European public space amid the Covid-19 crisis. ECF advocates for more substantial and inclusive cultural policies of the EU, as well as for citizens’ engagement in policymaking.